A new study report published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution has revealed that cats are not good in catching rats. The research was initially carried out to study the behaviour of urban rats in their natural environment.
However, during the study, the research team led by Michael Parsons noted that cats did not show any interest in catching rats. It should be also noted that cats and rate came in close proximity more than 300 times and except 20 instances, cats did not try to hunt down rats.
The presence of cats affected the behaviour of rats living in urban areas. When cats were present, rats were seen behaving carefully, and most of the times, sneaking around rather than trotting out in plain sight.
"We used a pre-existing radiofrequency identification assay (microchipped rats and field cameras) and ethograms to assess the impact of cats, including temporal and space use patterns, on an active rat colony. From Dec 27, 2017, through May 28, 2018, we captured 306 videos of pre-identified cats and/or rats that shared the same space. There were three instances of predation and 20 stalking events," wrote the researchers in the study report.
During the experiment, rats were seen behaving carefully to avoid the presence of cats and it indicates that stealthy rats are clever enough to save their lives. While explaining, the researchers stated, "Even though rats were less likely to be seen, they simply shifted their movements and remained present in the system. Our findings that cat presence led to fewer rat sightings may explain the common perception of their value as rat-predators despite the associated risks."